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August 28 - September 3

Annika Lilja and Anaka Malalgoda Weerakoon

Sep 4, 2023

Mitch McConnell Freezes, China's Fight Against Espionage, Sudan Crisis, UK School Issues

Top US Story: Mitch McConnell Freezes

On Wednesday, US Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, froze during a news conference for the second time in the past several weeks. The first time McConnell froze during a news conference was on July 26th, and the episode caused many to be concerned over whether or not McConnell is healthy enough to lead, after all, he is 81 years old.

In this most recent episode, McConnell froze while answering a question about his thoughts on running for reelection yet again in 2026. This has only increased concern over McConnell’s age and health. You can see the video here

McConnell’s health seems to be looming over the already divided Congress and is also serving to remind the American people of both the President’s age (80 years old) and health, as well as Senator Diane Feinstien’s (90 years old).

Where our information is from, and where you can go to for more details:

Top Story from Asia: China’s Fight Against Espionage

Although China is dealing with major economic issues (check out this previous ATP Wrap-Up for more info), the ruling Communist Party is honing in on fighting espionage.

China’s Ministry of State Security started its first social media account, and its first post was a call to action. They are calling for “all members of society” to join their fight against espionage (CNN). The post went on to say that “participation of the masses” should be “normalized” (The New York Times).

For context, understand that China expanded its anti-espionage act in July and that the government is now offering rewards for people who report spies. The New York Times has called this “a campaign that blurs the line between vigilance and paranoia.”  

Where our information is from, and where you can go to for more details:

Top Story from Africa: Sudan Crisis

Weekend attacks on Khartoum have killed at least 25 civilians, due to airstrike attacks throughout the night. Sudan has been involved in a civil war for 5 months, as the unrest between the army and paramilitary forces shows no signs of slowing down. 

Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has had a long history of violence and unrest. Coups, military turmoil, and a weak economy have led this nation into years of political and social upheaval. 

An earlier civil war resulted in the split of South Sudan as an independent country in 2011, and history seems to be repeating itself; in the early months of 2023, power struggles between the paramilitary leaders and the army erupted into violence on the streets. 5000 deaths and 5 months of fighting later, there is no sign of stoppage- even with UN and Saudi intervention. 

Sudan’s situation is a violent and humanitarian crisis, with sources reporting civilian ethnic killings, which has resulted in further interest from the international criminal court. The full scale of civilian suffering is dire; more than half of Sudan’s population requires aid, while 6 million are severely malnourished. However, aid is becoming increasingly difficult to supply, as the UN reports of insecurity on borders; bureaucratic obstacles, and looting, as thousands of lives hang in the balance.

Where our information is from, and where you can go to for more details:

Top Story from Europe: UK school crisis

More than 100 schools are set to close or partially shut down due to a new emphasis on destroying RAAC concrete buildings that could harm thousands. The government has rolled out these new plans a day before millions of children start the new school year, causing unrest and chaos throughout the nation as online learning starts instead. 

RAAC seems to be the centre of this issue, but the reality is far more complex. Due to decreased funding of state schools across the UK, RAAC concrete has been at the forefront of school collapses and disrepair, as school children learn with steel bars holding ceilings together. RAAC concrete is a type of aerated concrete that is prone to disintegration, found in buildings built around the 1960s and onwards. In many schools, it has made up the ceilings and walls, endangering thousands of children who study under these unstable structures.

Many argue that the real issue is a lack of government funding and action and that this situation could have been solved years ago. The UK government continues to cut budgets for public welfare buildings, with the UK prime minister Rishi Sunak cutting funding for school repair in 2021. The public is now seeing the government quickly backtracking - leading to weeks of disruption for parents, teachers, and students across the UK.

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